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Why are the best developers man ? (class id:007)

The best software developers I have worked with have all been man. There are plenty of good female software engineers but the *really* good ones have been guys with their own agendas or raving self publicists. If you want real diligent, quality, deadline focused work, give it to the gentleman.

Evgeny Gesin /
Monday, December 22, 2003

Men.  It should be the plural men not the singular man.

A man
Monday, December 22, 2003

Ohh, yes :)

Evgeny Gesin /
Monday, December 22, 2003

Clearly its because only men are capable of prolonged logical thought.  Women tend to have their brains overheat which can lead to emotional outbursts.

Monday, December 22, 2003

I must thank you guys (and you are guys) for working diligently at proving the importance of the new Bold Links program!


Joel Spolsky
Monday, December 22, 2003


Somebody hold me.....sniff, sniff.  (Now where did I put my Prozac?)  AND DON'T TRY TO HELP ME LOOK FOR MY PROZAC BECAUSE I SURE AS HELL DON'T NEED A MAN'S HELP. 

Does anybody have any chocolate?  <Runs downs the hall bawling uncontrolably).

Monday, December 22, 2003

Actually these topics are kind of interesting, in a way.

It is interesting to here what guys (and yes, they are guys) have to say about it.

Most of it is a founded as the guy who yesterday sent me an email (from the 'software babe' topic) telling me that female geeks were the best lovers....based on a sample of one I think.

Funny how we can take personal experience and define it as true for each and every situation that anybody could experience.

Interesting to here the guys who are game (yes in this politically correct world it can be a crime) to acknowledge that their is a huge difference between men and women.

Even better the ones who realise that this difference can be an excellent thing.

Aussie Chick
Monday, December 22, 2003

The difference is that business men like to talk about problems and business women about success. :)

Evgeny Gesin /
Monday, December 22, 2003

Think about long hours, odd hours, painful hours, endurance.....and the history of MANkind. I should confess that Females actually make good testers (although I also haven't met any tester of any gender that I would call great).

Nathan H.O.
Monday, December 22, 2003

"Think about long hours, odd hours, painful hours, endurance" 

Sounds like childbirth to me :)

Monday, December 22, 2003

>> proving the importance of the new Bold Links program

I think it's time to introduce that registration, Joel :)

Monday, December 22, 2003

Despite Joel's facile sarcasm Evgeny has a point.

There are fields where men are the vast majority of the leading practioners.

Let's go through the possible reasons.

1) The most common one is simple cultural prejudice. Female judges were considered a joke in Spain ("jutgessa" means "judge's wife" not "female judge" in Catalan) until the passing of the Constitution in 1978. Now they form the majority of entrants to the judicial career. The same can be said of many other jobs associated with one gender or another. It also varies from country to country and seems impervious to logic or experience (ask Saudi males if they think it would be possible for women to drive cars). EVgeny

Cultural prejudice definitely applies to gender and computers. Many studies have shown that computers are considered to be basically male pursuits. The result is that there is a much greater mass of men entering the software world than women.

2) Inherent genetic differences: this is highly politically incorrect but true. approximately 15 years ago a US researcher (a woman by the way) did research into the capabilities of male and female students for learning the sciences at an advanced level. She found that the mental traits associated with success in science were more common among boys than girls. That is to say out of a hundred girls you would have less people with the mental make-up to succeed at science than you would with a hundred boys. That doesn't mean that you are not gong to get a large number of highly successful females, it just means that the proportion of highly successful males will be higher.

3) The fact that in some fields there are a disproportionate number of men fill the top spots. I am not talking about glass ceilings here. Let's take the example of Bridge. The majority of Bridge players are women. Tnis holds true even at the tournament level. Yet the number of top class women Bridge players can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The generally accepted explanation for Bridge is a question of ambition. Zia Mahmoud claimed it was to do with testoserone levels, but even if it is only cultural it does seem that many women lack the killer instinct necessary to be a top class bridge player (or chess player, but in chess there are so few women who play anyway we can't make a fair distinction)

I think as Evgeny implies, that this is the case with software. There are less women who are prepared to be obsessive about software development, or bank their whole immature egos on one particular project.

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 22, 2003

Stephen, do you have _any_ citations to support the rather ridiculous assertions you're making?

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Robert, I think that question could be point nearly every post in the 'why are they best developers ...." style threads.

The TR OLLsen who started this must be having a good cackle.

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Deear Robert,
                      Could you kindly inform me which assertions you find ridiculous so I can send you to appropriate sources.

                        Though it seems pretty clear from the tone of your post that you can't be bothered to do more than insult people who don't seem to have the same prejudices as you. Sad really!

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Stephen, I'm very sorry that my tone was rather harsh.  Your first point was valid.  In addition to overt prejudice, I think think that cutural conditioning is a major factor -- e.g., the subtle clues that girls receive that science is a man's occupation.

However, any suggestion that women are genetically less suited for certain fields is rather silly, and possibly dangerous.  (Not unlike the scientific justifications once used to "prove" that blacks are inferior to whites.)  The study you discussed sounds suspiciously like junk science.

Aussie Chick's point is well taken.  This whole line of discussion is only marginally more useful than the "salad cream" thread.

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Apology accepted. And please accept mine for losing my temper.

----"However, any suggestion that women are genetically less suited for certain fields is rather silly, and possibly dangerous.  (Not unlike the scientific justifications once used to "prove" that blacks are inferior to whites.)  The study you discussed sounds suspiciously like junk science."------

There are very important topics raised here, and I will try and give a brief answer. Firstly the study was not junk science; it was published in Scientific American in 1985-1986 and obviously  had been extensively peer reviewed. I think the SA site is now a pay site for searches but I will see what I can do to locate it. The interesting thing was that her research received a large amount of irrational attack from fellow feminists, but nobody thought to attack the flawed assumptions behind her recommendation that girls at school should be given scientific aptitude tests before deciding to specialize in science.

What is important here is to get the exact wording right. "To say that women are not suited for certain fields is very silly but nobody is saying that. What we are saying is that there may be a higher proportion of people suited to certain fields within a certain sub-group. Now, that sub-group can be women or "blacks", except that we can divide 99%+ of the human race into women or men, but have real difficulties when it comes to deciding who falls within a particular racial sub-group.
When it comes to physical characteristics we accept that without question. Nobody attacks you for suggesting that the average height or shoe size of Bantu tribesman is greater than that of Han chinese. Equally when we talk about individuals we are prepared to accept genetic differences. Nobody claims any more that differences in mathematical or verbal aptitude are solely the result of post-natal experience and that genetics does not play a part. The danger comes when statements about mental aptitude for different sub-groups, whether women, or blacks, or gypies, or jews, are misinterpreted.
Logic is all important here. The fact that 99% of men may be suitable for a certain field, and only 1% of women, doesn't make any difference if you happen to be hiring one of the men or women in the other 1%. If are a Swede with black hair and brown eyes, the fact that most Swedes have blonde hair and blue eyes is entirely irrelevant to your apperance. With racial groups the difference between any two individuals within a racial group is greater than the difference between the means for each group. I once helped a friend who was producing a scientific paper on dairy farming. You actually compare those two figures when breeding cows, and only if the difference between the average of two groups is greater than the difference between any two individuals in those groups do you take the group into account for breeding purposes. It's hardly a good idea to base our selection practises for computer scientists on a method dismissed as unscientific for the selection of milk cows. So, even though your studies suggest less women are suitable for a scientific career than men, you don't, as the author of the paper I referred to suggested, test women for aptitude before you let them choose; if the tests are useful and reliable you should be testing everybody.

Now one thing is clear; the very best in computer programming are overwhelmingly men (actually if the covers on the Wrox books were an fair sample they would be overwhelmingly incredibly ugly and overweight white caucasian males with a complete lack of dress sense). If you were asked to choose the most important hundred people in the history of computing you would include Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, but I doubt if they would have many sisters to keep them company.

Now this may be simply the result of there being few women entering the field as a result of cultural prejudices. However the two possibilities I mentioned later must not be dismissed. There do appear to be differences in the average mental aptitude profile of men and women (which obviously has no effect on the mental aptitude profile of any individual man or woman) and that may explain the greater number of men entering computer science -- though history appears to show that in nearly every case when there is a level playing field women enter fields they were previously considered inappropriate for. Also there are strange cases, and the example of Bridge is one of them, where although women form the majority of players at social, club and tournament level, they are grossly unrepresented at the very top (Mrs. Culbertson, Helen Sobel and Rixie Markus were among the best players in the world, but nearly all the others in that mythical top 100 are men).

The theme of this discussion can easily descend to the level of trolling, but it is just as stupid to go into denial and ignore the fact that all the names in computing we bandy about are male.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I think it has a whole lot to do with social momentum.

At one time there were next to zero male nurses.  The stigma dissappeared and now there's plenty.  There were almost no female doctors and lawyers, but now there are plenty.

I think it may take a good long time for there to be a lot of female programmers though, as it's just not a sexy profession -- even less so now that the money isn't as good.

To get a huge upsurge of female developers in the U.S., we have to
1) Stop telling little girls that looking pretty is the most important thing in the world.
2) Encouraging girls to value the logic as opposed to emotional decisions.
3) Encourage young girls to spend long hours by themselves in their room in front of a computer screen.

I think it's a good ways off.

Richard P
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Hate to be the one to tell you, there are more brunetts than blonds in sweden.

Swede and Bruntett
Friday, May 21, 2004

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